Nurse Mona Baron

Mona Baron retires after 40 years

Mona Baron retires after more than 40 years as a nurse in Revelstoke.

When I was asked to a write an article about Nurse Mona about her 43 years working in Revelstoke, I didn’t know her last name. It turns out, I’m not alone.

“Lots of my patients don’t even know my last name. They just ask for Mona,” she told me one day earlier this month at the Selkirk Medical Clinic.

Mona Baron is retiring this month after 43 years working as a nurse in Revelstoke, including an amazing 40 years at the clinic. She started at the old Queen Victoria Hospital, when it was located where Cooper’s is today, and has seen the clinic through several renovations to what it is today.

Baron grew up in the Okanagan where she always wanted to be a nurse. As a little girl she had a doctor’s kit she would play with, she told me. After graduating from high school, she registered in nursing school at the Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, B.C. There, she learned the ins and outs of nursing, alternating between classroom courses and the job training.

She came to Revelstoke after graduating in 1970, starting at the old Queen Victoria Hospital. It was winter, it was snowy, and she found a place to live downtown, where she was able to walk to work.

“It was quite familiar to me because the Royal Columbian at the time I trained had large wards with 13, 14, 15 people in a ward,” she said. “That’s the same as the old hospital here.”

There, she would care for all the patients, bathing them, dressing them, feeding them. “Whatever there was to do, you just did it.”

After a year, the hospital moved to its location in Arrow Heights. Two years later, Baron started working at the Selkirk Medical Clinic, not long after it opened its doors. In 1973, the clinic was much smaller than it is today and there were also fewer doctors than there are now; there are 10 now compared to five when Baron started. As a result, the clinic has gone through two major renovations since it opened.

The physical space of the clinic isn’t the only change Baron has noticed. She’s also witnessed the changes in technology that has impacted the job, notably the switch to electronic records from paper records.

“Years ago we had to physically enter every lab result and they’d take days to come and we’d have reams and reams of paper,” she said. “Now everything’s in the computer.”

Technology has also meant for more knowledgeable patients, who are able to do a bit of self-diagnosis before showing up at the clinic, and can research drugs online. “But they still need guidance for certain,” she said.

What gets people sick hasn’t changed too much, she said. There’s still the basic ailments like heart problems, gastrointestinal issues and stomach problems. Now, though, it’s easier to diagnose patients and get them treatment. Getting back X-ray results is much quicker. No longer do they need to be packaged up and sent to a radiologist out of town; these days the X-rays can be scanned onto a computer and sent to a radiologist for diagnosis instantly. All of this has meant things move at a faster pace.

Baron didn’t intend to stay in Revelstoke for 43 years. When she first moved here, it was a place to work for a bit, but then she met her husband Bob, and since they both had good jobs here, they stayed.

“I never ever thought I’d be here in one place that long,” she said. “I didn’t intend to stay that long, it just worked out that way. It was just a job to come to and perhaps move on.”

Baron’s colleagues praised her for caring for everyone and everything – she even watered the plants in the clinic – and for making the best lemon squares.

“She pulled more warts off more kids than anyone,” one said. “It will be hard to find someone as dedicated.”

Baron didn’t have any crazy patient stories to tell me – or if she did she was sticking to nurse-patient confidentiality – but she did have some memories, like the day the clinic flooded, or the many Christmas lunches. She spoke fondly of her regular patients that we should treat first thing in the morning before work. She said she loved hearing stories of the old days of Revelstoke from her older patients. There were also the tragedies; two people died in the clinic during her time.

“It’s an ordinary life. It’s just I’ve been at it so long,” she said. “There’s been good days and bad days, tragic things that have happened to some of the people in the clinic.”

She said she’s ready for retirement; already she’s only been working two days a week for the last few years. Her husband is already retired and they plan on spending their time fly fishing, hiking and in the garden.

Her favourite thing about being a nurse was the satisfaction of being able to help people. “Whatever help they needed, I was able to give it,” she said.

“I always said the most grateful patients were the ones I cleaned their ears so they could hear again.”

 

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

LETTER: Revelstoke does not need proposed Hay Rd. development

The development calls for 60 housing units

Which streets in Revelstoke have the most crashes?

The data was recently released by ICBC

LETTER: Kiss the caribou goodbye

Kiss the caribou goodbye Revelstoke! The $1.1 million funding from the B.C.… Continue reading

EDITORIAL: Improving highway safety

Highway 97 has seen plenty of collisions and accidents over the years

Sternwheelers once plied Okanagan Lake

Vessels once transported passengers and goods along the Okanagan Valley

B.C. records 146 new COVID-19 cases through long weekend

More that 28 people tested positive for the virus each day since Friday

Canucks tame Minnesota Wild 4-3 to even NHL qualifying series

J.T. Miller leads Vancouver with goal and an assist

COVID-19 vaccine efforts provide hope but no silver bullet to stop pandemic: Tam

There are more than two dozen vaccines for COVID-19 in clinical trials around the world

Passengers escape unharmed from destructive houseboat fire in Shuswap

Cause of blaze on Mara Lake under investigation, flames erupt at 2 a.m. Aug. 4

Alberta vehicles allegedly damaged in Summerland

Lug nuts loosened, windows smashed in several instances in Okanagan community

Interior Health reports nine new cases of COVID-19, 149 linked to Kelowna

Nine new cases were reported in the Interior Health region over the long weekend’s four reporting periods

Former Kelowna resident makes fundraising goal for cancer fertility treatments

Rebecca Hamilton recieved a boost in a battle against cancer - $25,000 for post chemo treatments

Study shines light on what makes LGBTQ+ youth feel safe in a community

The study goes beyond looking at school or family supports

Alberta to require masks at schools this fall, but still no mandate in B.C.

B.C. students are also set to return to classrooms in September

Most Read